top of page

From Bat-making to Boxing, Louisville, KY a Must-visit for Sports Fans


A 120-foot bat ensures that you can’t miss the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory on Main Street.

Louisville, KY is known for a lot of things—horse racing and top-of-the-line bourbon among them. But it is also the home to two long-time sports legends—Muhammad Ali and the Louisville Slugger bat.



Walking down Museum Row, there’s no way that you can miss the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, because there is a bat—a really, really huge bat—balanced against the wall of the facility located right on Main Street.


For more than 100 years, the Louisville Slugger Factory has been producing the bats used by famous sluggers from Babe Ruth to Jackie Robinson to Roberto Clemente, and visitors can take a guided, 35-minute tour through the building, which still produces up to 4,000 bats daily. Even those who don’t follow the sport will be fascinated by all that goes into producing a bat from the time the wood leaves the forest and is milled to when it arrives in the hands of an all-star hitter.



The very first player to sign a contract with Hillerich & Bradsby Co., which produces the Louisville Slugger, was Honus Wagner in 1905. Since then, more than 8,000 players have followed suit; in fact, more than 80 percent of hitters in the National Baseball Hall of Fame were under contract to the company. A cool fast fact: when players sign their contract, that autograph is used to make the signature brand for their bats.


There are all sorts of fascinating facts to be learned during the tour; for example, did you know that the location of the logo on a bat is important? On an ash bat, the logo is placed on the deep V grain line; on a birch or maple bat, it is on the straight grain lines, or the strongest part of the bat.


While bats are made for professional players, they are also made for the general public and can be customized for specific occasions, such as to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when a number of the bats are dyed pink.


But back to that huge bat outside: rising 120 feet into the air, the 68,000 pound bat is made of carbon steel and hand-painted to resemble wood. An exact scale replica of Babe Ruth’s bat, it is signed by Bud Hillerich, who made the first Louisville Slugger in 1884. Lest any catchers be offended, there is also an oversized ‘big glove’ inside the museum, which is 34,000 pounds, 12 feet long and 9 feet wide.


The cost for the tour is $18 ($11 for kids) and guests get to take home a Louisville Slugger mini-bat made right there in the factory.



Just down the street, the city pays tribute to ‘The Greatest’—hometown hero Muhammad Ali. An entire museum and multicultural center is dedicated to the three-time World Heavyweight Champion and the six core principles of his life: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality.


While there is no doubt of his athletic prowess—Ali had 56 wins and only five losses during his 21-year career—the center is also a celebration of Ali’s dedication to civil rights and to standing up for his principles, so much so that it almost cost him his career.



In 1967 when he refused to join the U.S. Army and go to Vietnam as it was against his religious beliefs as a Muslim, he was stripped of his title, given a five-year jail sentence and banned from boxing in America for three years. While he was able to avoid the jail sentence, his passport was also taken so that he couldn’t leave the country to box anywhere else. Despite this, he prevailed, and came back even stronger over the next decade to win the legendary ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ match against George Foreman and ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ bout against Joe Frazier.


Fight fans will appreciate that a number of his more famous fights are broadcast on televisions, with seating areas, where Ali can be seen in his prime. Newspaper articles chronicle his career, and his fame—helped along in part by his boastful appearances with sportscaster Howard Cosell—is documented through magazines, TV interviews and more. And Ali’s most famous line, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,’ can be seen throughout the center, whether painted on the wall, heard through video or depicted through numerous artworks paying tribute to the famed boxer.


Tickets to the Muhammad Ali Center are $18 for adults, $10 for kids over six and free for those under. The museum is closed Monday-Tuesday, and open from noon to 5 p.m. the rest of the week. Special programming on everything from racial reckoning to diversity and inclusion are offered at specific times; make sure to check out what’s available when you visit.


To learn more about these museums, visit https://www.sluggermuseum.com and https://alicenter.org. To see more of what Louisville has to offer, visit https://www.gotolouisville.com.

14 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page